Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Take it when you can.

This weekend marked the end of a 10 day sprint where priorities and deadlines converged in an intense black hole.  Every working parent has experienced it some folks really excel at this level of pressure but I lose myself in it. 

Friday night ended with an enormous Spring storm and it was all done. We had a 71 km training ride on Saturday morning and then on Sunday....I spent the day with my girls and my partner in crime. 

My girls and I walked around our neighbourhood so Fenner could show me the dragons starting to hatch. 
It is one of the many things we love to track during the Spring. The corner garden where the dragons lay their eggs.  It started as a story and game to try and get F to walk a bit quicker to school - to chase the 'Rainbow Dragon' down the street past it's nest.

The story has stuck and the garden remains one of the most beautiful Spring gardens in the neighbourhood.
We were in no rush. We blew dandelions, balanced on walls. Chatted with neighbours I haven't seen in weeks and enjoyed the post storm air.

J enjoyed a sleep in and prepped a picnic lunch for our trip to the Circus Festival at the Harbourfront.  It was Fenner's first long ride on the trail a bike through the downtown core and it went off like a dream. She's a pro.

Marlowe tried to run away with the Circus.

J and I clowned around.

It was just such a perfect day. Ending with pizza dinner and a cold beer at The Rail Garden where our radishes and pumpkins are making an appearance.

It was slow, deliberate and focussed with no split focus or competing priorities.  Perfection followed by a bike and brunch trip to Oakville on Monday morning with two of my favourite people.

I'd never explored the Waterfront Trail that far west. At one point, a wrong turn took us along about 3 km of a walking path through the Rattray Marsh.

I do love a good wetlands and the scenery made it easy to reposition the momentary irritation at walking instead of riding through.  When all was said and done Steph and I had clocked over 200 km in training rides from Friday to Monday. A third of what we'll be riding when we go to Montreal this summer for the bike rally.

It's a gorgeous trail and I look forward to doing it with the whole family one day. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

What exactly is the success metric for a Mom?

I come from great Maternal stock, true story. I just wish I could have understood this when I was still a kid - before proverbially tearing a piece of my Mom's heart out and eating it as a teenager.  

My Mum grew up in an era of feminism that was filled with conflicted ideals of what being a woman could or should be.  The idea that women should have a right to choose their own paths was  the message but the undertone, like a current,  that could carry women away was there was still a 'right' choice to make.
Graduate of the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing

I remember Mom saying to me that she was so relieved my older brother was a boy because she still hadn't figured out what kind of woman she wanted to be at that point - never mind what kind of woman she wanted to model for her daughters. At the time I was mortified at her institutionalized patriarchal view of womanhood...ah youth so simple.

I revisit that statement again and again wondering if there is ever a single concrete model that I want to commit to, so thankful that she lives such a broad life.
The night my brother was likely conceived - GROSS ME OUT MOM!
As I start to walk the path tread by herself, and so many Mothers before her I start to think that it is limitless - the capacity to stay up all night, to parent in ways so children know from early on that their voices can be heard, to keep little people alive even though they have suddenly become food racists (really, that toast is too dark?  REALLY??)
 She patiently listens to me talk out possible solutions to M's temper tantrums and supports me as I try on different parenting techniques - I can barely hear the sound of her eyes roll as I wonder out loud, "How can I foster M's strong will and voice without selling her on the black market?"

At some point in the past 15 years, I started thinking her capacity to continue speaking with her over-confident, know-it-all children was destructively limitless. Maybe she asked herself during those long tedious conversations, "How can I foster strong will and voice without selling her on the black market or throwing myself off a bridge?"

On top of survival, trying to pour the concrete foundation of a healthy definition of food, natural curiosity, empathy and adventure. It all seems a bit much doesn't it?
It all comes so clear now...

 I found this picture of our old family tent that housed all SIX OF US on more than one camping trip.  According to the back of the picture, we were camping at Woss Lake in 1980.  Here's what the website says about Woss Lake: 

"This rugged, undeveloped wilderness park is located on northern Vancouver Island, south of the community of Woss and north of Zeballos.

One of the most pristine wilderness parks on the Island, the landscape includes the southern portion of Woss Lake, as well as very steep forested slopes above the lake and the permanent snowfields and north facing slopes of Rugged Mountain, part of the Haihte Range."
That tent doesn't look so big now does it?
This means that my Mother was camping with 3 children and 1 new born baby sometime in the first 6 months of that baby's life in a place that had PERMANENT SNOWFIELDS.  Like a flash of lightening, it all becomes so clear.

I bet Jason wishes he'd known about my foundation before getting locked down.
Jason's thinking "Really, not Disney World?  REALLY?"
I suspect now that being the wife of a nomadic metallurgist in Canada and Mother to four of his children, might have made it hard to set down all the roots and build the community that keeps Mothers safe, but somehow in all 6 isolated towns we lived in I remember kitchens full of people. Morning coffee dates at our kitchen table, Christmas gift wrapping parties and camping trips.

Even during an election year she found the time for 'discussions' about acceptable public behaviour, birth control and safe party conduct, damn it.

When these are the building blocks I have to use for my own parenting career, it's hard to believe that failure is a possibility. That we could do the best job with the best materials given to me by great Mothers and still the little beasts could grow to be sociopathic monsters.

I can't help but think she must be so relieved that no matter what happens from here on in, she got four right thinking, mostly balanced adults on the road.

Jeez, the expectations on this job of impossible.